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Congestive progress

By Erik Espina

IN previous columns, I cited the divergent ethos of the businessman/investor vs. the politician public/administrator.

The former focuses on the bottom-line of the company, increasing profitability, reporting to a board elected by shareholders, to ensure dividends rise ROI (Return on Investment). The government officials mandate is public service, common good, for the greatest number of people.

He is accountable to a sovereign constituency. And may be removed via the ballot or prosecuted for malfeasance or misfeasance. The problem always begins when politicians begin to piggy-ride on the business credo of progress, investment, employment, etc. forgetting his oath as regulator, and not “facilitator” cum errand boy of lucrative business, for a “fee”.

Many times, we have heard the punch-line, “There is no stopping progress.” Or, “Traffic is the sign of progress.” May I add my own take – “Congestive progress” as the caveat to wanton commercialism?

The Boracay tragedy exposes the cost of run-away progress. Profiteering by investors with supine public officials choking the goose laying the golden egg. Increasing congestion for pure money-making is the evil that creates violations of law rendering the absence or total disregard for any sustainable urban, land use, zoning plans. Such signals, the beginning of a downward slide from a slippery slope. The function of government is precisely to tame the natural avarice for “profit at any cost”, by investors who regard themselves better than the public servant because the latter and the process for regulation may be bought.

The values of “Sustainable Development”, “Absorb-tive capacity”, “Environmental Protection” go out the window, when the public administrator applauds progress, unfortunately viewed, in terms of an avalanche in business developers replicating the urban nightmare in key cities of the country – of malls, chain eateries, hotels, condos, etc. constructed in the highest density of public inconvenience, becoming thus, another center for unmitigated population migration.